First there was Daniel Okrent. Then there were Byron Calame and Clark Hoyt. And now The New York Times has named its fourth public editor, Arthur Brisbane. Brisbane is the former editor and publisher of the Kansas City Star.
Bill Keller explained the job in an e-mail to his staff announcing Brisbane’s appointment:
“His assignment is to hold us accountable to our own standards, to serve as an advocate for the interests of readers, and to give readers an independent eye into the workings of this great news organization.”
The public editor serves a fixed term, has no editor, and has no official remit other than to probe about the Times’s journalism and fill some lovely Sunday column space twice a month.
So what would you recommend Brisbane do? Where have his predecessors excelled at pointing out the paper’s faults, and defending it from unjust attack? And what can Brisbane learn from where the first three have fallen short?